Tag Archives: Gloria Steinem

Marco Cochrane- safe for women

Gloria Steinem: October 2014 Associated Press

When the women’s movement started, there was not even a term called domestic violence. It was just called life. When  we think of violence against women, for instance, we understandably think mainly of other countries, where the degree of violence is much higher. But what is also true is that if you added up all the women who have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends since 9/11, and then you add up all the Americans who were killed by 9/11 or in Afghanistan and Iraq, more women were killed by their husbands and boyfriends.”

Marco Cochrane is a sculpture of a series called Truth in BEauty presented at Burning Man for a  years who asks “how can we have women feel safe?”  It’s a profound and astounding question when you consider the landscape of where we are with violence against women.   Speaking not just on women who are violated, but as well when they don’t feel safe to express themselves:  their happiness, their joys, their pain and their perspective.  The tech world is making moves to have the tech environment which is majority men welcome women in such a way that they feel seen, heard and full participants in the work place.  They want the contribution and creative input from women, and they want them to feel safe in working with their companies.

So the question Marco raises can be looked at in various ways.  One way is to look at the history of women and violence, or more to the point to look at what has been ignored, denied and patronized when women call out abuse by a man in the workplace or in the home.  The very sense that that has been the norm may have a lot to do with women withholding themselves and their experience of the world-part of which tells them women are not safe.

The scandals exposed recently in the abuse by NFL husbands and boyfriends on the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Woman Act of 1994 brought the world’s attention to a condition that has been tolerated, ignored or justified by the business of sports and their performers. University of California Berkeley, among other esteemed universities and colleges who have been called to the task of taking seriously the safety of their students with responses that are more of consequence to the offenders of the acts of rape and assault. In the military, the officers who have generally been the responsible agents for addressing violence against women are facing having those incidents out of their hands and into the non military legal professionals.   The United States as Gloria Steinem states is just now becoming aware of the reality that has been under the radar of bureaucratic systems that minimalized the consequences to the abuser. Violence has an impact not only on the victim, but is integrated into how women feels about themselves and their safety. Marco Cochrane in a recent interview offered a window into how women feel and what the effect is of living in the world where they may be unseen, unheard and may have to deal with the potential of  physical attack or assault.


Marco Cochrane with his wife Julia Whitelaw Cochrane, a collaborative attorney in Marin and partner to Marco served as the interviewer at the Innovate Berkeley event July 2014, and brought a new consciousness with a simple but profound questions.

“What would it be like in the world if women felt safe and what would it take to have women feel safe?” Internationally known for his exceptional series Truth is Beauty in The Bliss Project of Burning Man. Marco’s ‘Woman’ made from mesh wire a 55 foot essence and form of a woman reaching with every inch of herself toward the sky. She is felt as well as seen, and celebrated at Burning Man’s annual celebration in the desserts of Nevada.

Marco is speaking at the Innovate Berkeley event at the Impact Hub Berkeley as creative artists, writers, welders, designers and mostly people excited about life and its possibilities gather for his presentation. Marco describes himself as the child of hippie parents raised in Berkeley in his early years. He was introduced to antiwar and feminism viewpoints and by age 7 was aware and sensitive to the possibility of the need for radical change from that young age. He was aware of the insanity of war and saw how people treated each other and wondered why and what that was about from early age. The inequity of how some were treated well, and others not was an early observation that didn’t make sense to him, and gave ground to his challenging rather than accepting these disparities. The radical question of what it would take to have women feel safe comes from that realm of consciousness and also in his attention and focus not just on the inches and hills and valleys of a woman’s body in the process of sculpturing the Truth is Beauty series.   But over time with the subjects he noticed their silence, the holding back, the absence of exposure behind the unspoken speaking by women around him.

Marco’s question “What would it take to have women feel safe” brings to mind that because of their silence, the withdrawal of their presence, humanity has less to work with. Marco expresses the value that women feeling safe and free to express would make their feminine energy to the world. He has observed his response, his speaking is available to him, and that is not the case with women. He observes that men don’t need to have permission to speak, that men fear other men, knowing they themselves carry so much aggression at all time, perhaps from fear of survival, but they sense it in other men. The violence against women, rape and abuse by men he sees as a coping mechanism to keep women silent. The effect is to shut down women.

“We need the direction from women that would make the world a different place.” He does not mention specifically what we all know if we read the newspapers. We have a world where rape and assault, not just in far off worlds, but in our military, in our universities, in our churches, in our schools are constantly being revealed. The revelations generally come through exposure by a woman who at significant cost to herself and often under duress speaks out. She may not be believed, her character and behavior may be attacked; her life can be at risk.

The emphasis of Marco’s message is that the different energy that women contribute and its potential to the world is where the world will find its answers, and that will come through women feeling safe.

If women felt safe, their silence would end and the feminine energy of connectedness, transparency, creative possibilities would be available to the world, and is needed to handle the problems we have in creating a sustainable world, the world we have to deal with now, Marco points out. Women feeling safe did not come through the feminist movements or the hippie movements of the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, he observes. He says that at every gathering ike the one we’re attending tonight, someone brings up at this point the work of One Billion Rising and Eve Ensler to defend the value of the work of feminists which he values, but it doesn’t change his experience of how women feel and how that affects what they say and what they do and what they keep to themselves that is lost to the world.

Marcos is intent on the challenge of having women feel safe being taken up by all. The implication is that everyone who wants to see the end of violence against women and in the world needs to be up for the job. He suggests “Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because it’s fun, not generosity,” emphasizing the difference and making clear there is no exchange or obligation to be expected by making the effort to do the right thing.

“Its going to take all of us to do it,” Marco says in closing. In saying all of us, I am reminded that everyone means women as well as men making it safe for women. Women making it safe for women to speak out is the basis for women’s groups or the sanctity of the chosen friends with whom we share ourselves without editing. Sometimes our sisters, sometimes our daughters and mothers, but it doesn’t come with the role or relationship status. The sense of safety that we have as women with other women is born of trust coming from consistent experience of having our thoughts, expressions and emotion-ourselves valued.

But out here in life, in the office, meeting or social event-family reunion or class- it is not assumed those conditions will be there for us. Our job as women coming from the perspective presented by Marco is it’s our job to make it safe for women. Just as well as the men-maybe even moreso, we must honor the women around us –their perspective, their vulnerable moves out to express what lives in their hearts and minds, their value, their gifts.

Marco has traveled around countries far and wide to speak to people about Truth is Beauty, his magnificent sculptures celebrating the beauty and spirit of women, but it seems that his quest is in making it safe for women, and what that can contribute to humanity is also his gift. Who women are and what they have to contribute is a work of art he presents to the world. That opening is an opening is as high and solid as the 55 foot sculpture Woman – and then some.  Truth as Beauty provides that reach for us all.


Sex, Women and Power


Karen Colusa, artist 2011IMG_0703

Gloria Steinem:  “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

Sex, Women and Power came as a new chapter for the new woman and changed the human potential for how men and women lived their lives.   While living through the abrupt interruption of the life around me in the revolution of the late 1960’s;  new perceptions and ideals even with  its cost provided a political and social chaos from which sexual liberation led to the choices I began to recognize that were mine to make.  Feminism-though I didn’t have a name for it- was what I felt like a hot knife to a still cold center of my being  as a child when I was a witness to contempt and lack of dignity afforded those considered less strong, less seen-the unconsidered, the other.   The concepts I could not name, but I felt  when I witnessed the inequity, injustice and pain administered with authority by those in power.  The urgent push to stand in the cracks rather than enter either the realm of those holding the power or those victimized was where I placed myself.  The passionate and uncompromising places I found in the cracks were the signposts and directives of my life, and the purpose of this book is to identify the process of feminism-equity and justice-for men and women,  inside and out, and the  call for the future we must secure.

Women’s rights born under the blanket of civil rights fifty years ago shares some of the history-the struggle for equality, finding a place at the table with equal rights and privileges as citizens with access to choice and responsibility has been a process shared between women and minorities. We argue that the structured systematic condition of placing obstacles to equality for race and sex are less overt, but live in the condition of the need to exclude and deny that process of exclusion in an attempt to maintain established white privilege and power.

Women and their sense of power are a thread that is the life-force, the motion and the expression of the feminism- that I address in this book.  Personal is the political for the women, the barefoot frontrunners, who took the steps to bring into their lives,  their dignity and their choices,  fulfilling the potential of equality.  One by one, in small and large measured and unmeasured ways often, the progress over the past fifty years is profound.  It reveals a pattern of empowered by sexual equality  that is  followed by full participation in all realms of business, political, medical and scientific achievement.


PART ONE – WOMEN describes  the path  of women through interviews, historical context and intimate essays of the changes experienced that redefined of women and the society around them .   Interviews with women who were born in 1940 initiated the process of recognizing the specific agents that created social and sexual change.  With the Women’s Movement and Civil Rights movement in the background,  women lived under the radar but were the instruments of significant change.  It was about how they lived their lives with  a response step by step, trial and error to a new world of choice and responsibility .  It is also the story of the women who came together in the 1920’s in the trade unions, then again in the 1960’s to forming the ethos of feminism.   NOW, and the Women’s Liberation Movement impacted and changed the political structure by their relentless demand and attainment of worker’s rights and  equality in the workplace and in the home.  But it was all the women who followed who took the movement to a transformed society.

 PART TWO – SEX describes  women  as they gained access to choice and responsibility to determine their own lives.   The world changed for women with the first birth control pills in 1964, and then the Civil Rights Bill of 1965 that determined prejudice against minorities, women and immigrants could not exclude their participation and inclusion in The Great Society we aspired to be.  The  atmosphere of the late 1960’s was  that of challenging assumptions about who we were as a country and as human beings, as men and as women.   Assumptions about our roles and identities gave way to the cognitive dissonance inspired by  the new freedoms and new choices and new responsibilities that came often in chaos and confusion.   The future was unclear, but the  demonstrations and anger from the universities to the streets of Chicago, LA and New York demanded a look at our priorities and  participation in the world.     Affirmative Action in 1965 was the starting point for many, within the scope of civil rights and President Lyndon Johnson’s insistence in fulfilling the intention of the Civil Rights Act.  Preferential admission to universities and jobs enhanced access for women, and minorities in an attempt to reverse discrimination.  The timeline shows that sexual and political power seems linked to the new history by women, and changes in social roles and by both men and women.    Sexual and political changes over the span of the  years of social revolution  illustrate how new patterns emerged in how people lived their lives.

The women who stepped forward in Seneca Falls in 1848 or in Afganistan a week ago, give weight to the position  of women who impact their circumstances and the world around them. Significant and a crack in the hardened ground of patriarchy, class regimentation, we see girls like Malala Yousafzai who have broken through the fear and contempt, and will not be stopped. In our own country, ground is broken for non violence against women who have had the courage to come forward and break the chains of sexual abuse in their homes, in our military, in universities, and in the athletic sports world. We have moved forward significantly, but in our poorest and most crime ridden local communities today, there is recognition that for girls,  lack of education and property make less possible access  and entry into the workplace.  It all begins for girls with the means to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies in order to progress and make into a sustainable life.  Planned Parenthood has served women since the days of Margaret Sanger in the 1940’s. Roe Vs.Wade has added to their support of women to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, but predominantly, Planned Parenthood has served as a source of education and service for all income levels to guide their management of  health and well being, sexual education and birth control. Predominantly, the sexual revolution of the 1970’s brought the recognition of women as sexual beings with desire and appetite unrelated to their roles as wives and mothers.


The PART THREE – POWER  is the product of call in 1970 for the sexual and political liberation of women that made for the ongoing transformation underway worldwide for women, and for humanity. Women getting together with women and calling for change and taking on the openings provided to women with Affirmative Action was the action taken.  Led by the voices of the women in the movement, but achieved by the women who stepped forward into the potential for liberty brought on by the social revolution.  It was each women who chose to take on whatever part she saw for herself to achieve her place, her position of being a free woman.  The brave actions of these barefoot frontrunners brought on the markers of feminism we find in the world today.  The role of fathers, the definition of family, the high representation of women in professional and political positions of power are all the work of the women who came before.   Feminism has always been about social justice and social equity, and we find  today the work of Civil Rights undone is where the energy of feminism lives in Black Lives Matter.  Sexism and racism begin always with the exclusion of the other seen as a threat to prevailing power.    Marriage Equality in 35 states is a major win for Civil Rights and Women’s Rights,  But those left behind, the women and the people of color, may be the next level of identifying and bringing the needed light and attention to the wounded people abandoned by unsustainable economic dynamics .

  New family patterns have emerged that include a variety of ways in which people hold and define their lives.  Who people marry and if they marry are new questions with new answers as we move forward.  The dignity and individual expression of living life as we choose for men and women is the move toward a better world most agree.  And yet, there is a serious attempt to take women’s rights back to restrictions and limitations lived through before women’s right to choose and birth control.  Guttmacher Institute described in 2011 as the War on Women’s Reproductive Rights.   In 50 states, there are 1100- reproductive revisions designed to restrict access to abortion and birth control services in in 24 states.  Republicans in the house are waging a war on women through attempts to deny birth control in the Affordable Health Care system; their efforts are to take not just women but the law itself back to what was gained by Roe VS Wade in 1973.  These legislative proposals from Georgia, Texas and Pennsylvania as well as Louisiana, Ohio and North Carolina are designed to take women back, not forward and ultimately society back not forward to the future we’ve left behind.

Knowing how we have come this distance considering the magic and the mastery that directed the course of women’s liberation and civil rights brings a stark recognition of the value of these past fifty years.  And an urgency  to keep what has been attained, and reach deeper and harder for those left behind.  Affirmative Action ended in 1984, but there is talk of bringing it back.  There is also a movement to train and teach women and young black boys and girls to code and enter the tech world with its cavernous need for workers as unlimited potential is the direction of that world.  Yes We Code is such an organization with Start Ups all over the country bringing inventors and youth together unleashing the imagination and competency accessible in this union.  Further the goal of feminism has always been since Seneca Falls in the 1920’s a solution to the people thrown away in prisons.  Prison Reform is at the front of the work going forward for  those who aspire for a world that represents the goals of humanitarianism, peace and justice.   That is the power we discuss in this book.

This work is dedicated to all the women making the effort to include themselves, bring their talents, desires and wants to their world and our world.  The new woman today is an expression of bringing their eyes and heart to meet the unmet challenges for humanity. Their power to language and shoulder the means to free themselves, and in turn to free others.     To all the women and men who work  to lift the corners of darkness and fear in the glaring light of racism and sexism, this is the new world we require.   Ferguson, Baltimore, Oakland, New York City are not the exceptions, the people there have exposed the substantial work left to do to fulfill the goals of the Civil Rights Bill, and free men and women from the bigotry that robs them of their own peace.   That truly is the power we will need to meet the challenges ahead.






2014 Supreme Court vs Roe VS Wade

images-4        Politics of feminism:  2014   

There is no simple reform.  It really is a revolution.  Sex and race because they are easy and visible and visible differences that have been primary ways of organizing human beings into superior/inferior groups and into cheap labor on which this system depends. We are talking about a society in which there will be no roles other than those chosen or those earned.  We’re really talking about humanism.”   Gloria Steinem

The Supreme Court’s  2014 decision to reduce the distance between those who protest abortion, and those who using the benefit of abortion with their protestations is an indication that Roe VS Wade is under attack.  It puts at risk, some of the distance from the 1973 decision of that Supreme Court with just the few feet taken away  that provide a buffer between those on either side of the question of abortion.  Many see this result from the Supreme Court  as yet one more attempt by those who do not agree with the law of the land:  Roe VS Wade 1973.

The work of the years of social change and legal process came through the work of many who lives in the atmosphere of revolution and what the 60’s were about.  Women, since the days of the earliest feminist gathering in Seneca Falls in 1848, had always been about reform-in the prisons, in the factories, on the streets.  But the turbulence of the Viet Nam War and Civil Rights movement in the South provoked participation by women.  They worked again for reform in a war that spent young men’s lives in Viet Nam, reform in civil rights if not in the cities of Montgomery and Memphis, then behind the scenes organizing and supporting the civil rights action through protests and demonstrations.   Who and what was important was in the process of change and flux and  and that chaos  stirred throughout the country.  Nationwide democracy was challenged in the streets of the cities and college campuses  by a counter culture that questioned the status quo of authority.  Many universities across the country, in the college classrooms, and from churches , a movement made up of people working to promote the end of the draft, against the war came together.  Historians note that women in anti war and  civil rights movement began to bring to bring to focus the principles and demands of the women’s movement in mid 60’s.

1964 also brought  the birth control pill into the doctor’s offices and into the reach of married women, allowing choice in pregnancy and childbirth. Women gaining the right to birth control provided an undeniable liberty that freed them to determine their life’s course was how it was perceived at the time.  Around the topic of women’s rights, a counter culture  developed in how women perceived their roles as women and as members of society.  In 1964 also,  the Civil Rights Act for the end of discrimination based on sex, country of origin or sex.  With it, the  Affirmative Action law which required employers and colleges  to account for entry of those who had been excluded due to race or sex.  The effects of the factor of birth control, women’s’ rights and access given to minorities in jobs and eduction provided a whole new platform that brought about the world we live in today.  It is a work in process for sure.  But more to the point, it is under attack in policy and practice in various states of the nation.  The process and goals of humanity to allow  sexual freedom and the demands for equality are underway and a tedious balance politically, economically and as is evidenced by the Supreme Court decision today, not a certainty.  The buffer that has been there for women to not be personally attacked for their choices has now been reduced.

Valuing how it came to be that women gained the right to choose may an unknown to the generation born after 1977 because they have always lived with those rights and privileges.  How was it then for women, and the society that brought this change of freedom to choose to women.  In the late 60’s, Television news was full of racial struggle, war in Viet Nam, and the protests and demonstrations around the country around civil rights and the war.  Families were driven apart by the different ways these conflicts were held; those who supported the change in the conditions of race and inequality and those who saw the threat of changes they weren’t comfortable with,  women “being just like men” was one such threat.  No other choice but to go to war and serve in war was considered to be the only possible alternative in the post world war II world.  Yet the turmoil and violence around the war in Southeast Asia yes, but on the college campuses presented the marks of a very difficult time in our democracy. Women came to have a voice through their participation in the antiwar and civil rights movement, and brought feminism into its second wave of changing the culture inside out.

The loud and brash women speaking from the black and white televisions, the Bella Abzug’s, Gloria Steinem’s, Jane Fonda’s were considered by some to be dangerous, by many just and not taken seriously by women as well as men.  First Lady Jackie Kennedy in 1965 shared  in a television interview that her husband found these women espousing liberation to be  “unfeminine, and thought they might be lesbians.”  The country was in an uproar as roles and choices by men and women were being recalibrated, reconceived and for many reborn.  Many women did not identify with the movement, and alienation to the strident demands of feminism did not resonate with all women.  Yet as the opportunity to higher education and job advantages of Affirmative Action took hold, women gravitated if not to the women’s movement to experiencing the value of being the director of their own fate.

But this day, June 29th, 2014, today we have in every day’s event, news of abortion centers that are under fire, state legislation bills are attempting to reduce choice for women’s ability to choose, and ultimately to continue on the path of this portal to bright the goals of equality and empowerment to those systematically excluded.  It is clear that many women having had the freedom to choose their destiny are not about to turn back now.  But it may be time for those unaware of these political moves and their consequences to know this struggle is underway.  The argument that women need to have decisions made for them was common in the 1920’s.  Just like removing the opportunity for education for girls in Somalia makes sense if you want to reduce women’s access to full participation and choice as if that choice alone is somehow evil.  Many women have not chosen and will not choose abortion, and they don’t need the protection of a law that takes that choice away from them.  Their integrity will guide them, just as it has over the past years since 1973.  A recent film Obvious Child renders a good look at the process and integrity involved in those choices.  Women don’t need to be directed to make the choices right for them, and the Supreme Court’s decision today have ruled by reducing that barrier, the number of feet between vulnerable women, and those who show them terrible projections to discourage their decision.  To harass, attack and humiliate these women for their decision just a few feet closer may be just a few more feet closer to the privilege women have held since 1973 and Roe VS Wade.